Haier Shooting Stars participants announced, finally

Over the past few weeks, the NBA has slowly rolled out the participants for various All-Star Weekend events. But while many have gotten excited over the Taco Bell Skills Challenge and Sprite Slam Dunk contestants, I've eagerly waited the announcement of Haier Shooting Stars. Sure, other people might like dunks and three-point competitions, but I'm more a fan of seeing current players from the NBA and WNBA team up with legends to shoot from predetermined spots on the floor. Just inject that excitement right into my veins.

Finally, the NBA announced the participants today, and it's great list that includes Pau Gasol(notes), Al Horford(notes), and Dirk Nowitzki(notes) among the NBA stars and one of the greatest actors of his generation in Rick Fox. After the jump, let's break down the teams and see who has the best chance of coming away victorious.

Team Texas (Dirk Nowitzki, Becky Hammon, and Kenny Smith): With so many NBA and WNBA franchises in Texas, the league has allowed them to team together for Team Texas. That might seem a little unfair to the other squads, but this team won the whole shebang last season, and there's no arguing with winners. Dirk is the best shooter of the NBA bunch, and Hammon can hold her own. Their chances may rest with Smith, who will playing under a lot of pressure on his home network of TNT.

Team Los Angeles (Pau Gasol, Tina Thompson, and Rick Fox): No issues here with Gasol and Thompson -- they're pros who will want to show the home fans that they appreciate all their cheers. But while Fox may be a stellar thespian, I'm a little confused as to why LA gets an actor in the place of an NBA legend. Could Magic Johnson not participate? Whatever the case, Fox is familiar with basketball from his many acting roles and should do fine. But if he fails, expect there to be lots of controversy surrounding this selection. Why put one team at such a disadvantage?

Team Atlanta (Al Horford, Coco Miller, and Steve Smith): Nothing bad here -- Horford has great touch for a big man, Miller has the best name in the whole competition, and Smith made a career of hitting shots from anywhere on the floor. I'm a little surprised that Joe Johnson(notes) isn't there instead of Horford, but maybe JJ just wanted to focus on Sunday's game and not get distracted by the intensity of Shooting Stars.

Team Chicago (Taj Gibson(notes), Cathrine Kraayveld, and Steve Kerr): Kerr is obviously the ringer, a great shooter who never gets cold. But Gibson and Kraayveld are not anything close to shooters, with both preferring to spend their time inside. What gives, NBA? Are you trying to create a Shooting Stars dynasty with Team Texas? This is all rigged!

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